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April 23, 2019

Hepatitison the rise in City


April 23, 2019

LAHORE: An alarming and sudden surge is being witnessed in hepatitis cases in different parts of the provincial metropolis with contaminated water supply emerging as the primary cause for the growing number of cases.

With this the shortage of hepa-merz, which is prescribed for liver disease, is also being reported from different parts of the city adding to the woes of the hepatitis patients and their loved ones.

While no locality seems to be an exception, areas such as Sant Nagar, Krishan Nagar, Sanda, Outfall Road, Karim Park, Ichhra, Gulberg, Shadbagh and Township have been particularly hit by the disease.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), hepatitis is an inflammation of liver and there are five main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E.

Those dealing the hepatitis outbreak in the provincial metropolis claim that most of the cases being reported are those of Hepatitis A virus (HAV) and Hepatitis E virus (HEV). As per the WHO, hepatitis A virus is present in the faeces of infected persons and is most often transmitted through consumption of contaminated water or food. Similarly as per WHO, hepatitis E virus is transmitted via the faecal-oral route, principally via contaminated water.

The situation is worst in the Sant Nagar area behind the Punjab Civil Secretariat; the administrative headquarters of the provincial government, where almost every other household has one hepatitis A or E patient.

The locals are critical of the Water & Sanitation Agency (Wasa) for contaminated water supply and poor sanitary conditions, including overflowing drains in different areas. One resident, Ch Iftikhar, said despite repeated requests Wasa authorities did not take notice of contaminated water supply and the ever deteriorating drainage system.

Tanvir, another local who himself suffered from the disease, said he had complained about contaminated water supply in the area on the Pakistan Citizen Portal, launched by Prime Minister Imran Khan, but to no avail. Yet another resident, Javed Butt, said Punjab Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid who had contested the general elections from the very constituency, though did not win, had been critical of the previous government for poor quality of water supply in the area but even her government did not take notice of the issue.

Similarly, some residents of Ichhra had staged a protest demonstration against Wasa on the main Ferozepur Road on Friday. The demonstrators were of the view that unlike bimonthly (every two months) Wasa was serving utility bills on a monthly basis while the agency had totally ignored its responsibility of provision of clean water to its consumers. They said because of contaminated water supply hepatitis disease was spreading fast in the area.

Noted gastroenterologist Prof Dr Ghias-un-Nabi Tayyab said the surge in hepatitis A and E cases was an expected phenomenon of post-raining season. He said the current surge was because of recent heavy rains. He said sewage pollution and contaminated water were the main causes.

He further said there were more HEV cases than HAV in the recent surge and added both did not convert into chronic disease and the recovery time was from three to six weeks. He said only one percent patients had chances of severe disease because of HEV. He advised those suffering from the disease or at the risk to have a normal diet and avoid consuming raw vegetables and wash hands before eating.

Dr Yadullah Ali, Deputy Programme Manager Hepatitis & Infection Control Programme (H&ICP) Punjab, said a report was sought from 44 public hospitals of the provincial metropolis and a meeting of technical advisory committee on the issue of increasing cases of Hepatitis-A and E was also held recently. He said necessary guidelines to hospitals would be circulated by Tuesday (tomorrow). He said contaminated water was the leading cause of the disease and added Wasa was also being taken onboard. Dr Yadullah also advised that patients of hepatitis A and E should avoid fried food and take fresh juices and clean drinking water.

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